Difficult too. Zulte Waregem remained below the level they had brought against Genk and Anderlecht for an hour, but under the impulse of the duo Vormer-Vossen, the home team fought for a draw. Westerlo mainly had peace of mind, but failed to punish the doubting home players.
Three days after the victory in Anderlecht, Essevee also hoped to keep the three points against Westerlo, but the visitors from the Kempen immediately showed that they had also come to West Flanders with the necessary ambitions. Westerlo immediately claimed the ball and let the home players deliberately run after the ball.
Coach Leye only made two substitutions for the home team. The suspended Ciranni was replaced by Ndour, while Miroshi was allowed to take his place in defense again after a yellow suspension. As a result, Lopez started on the bench, just like the fully recovered Vossen. Reynolds and Van Eenoo were preferred to Dierckx and Chadli among the visitors.
Westerlo’s early offensive soon yielded success. De Cuyper sent a fine cross from the left, Foster easily won his aerial duel and Neustädter was then allowed to push the ball over the goal line (0-1). Zulte Waregem immediately realized that a difficult match would follow and immediately shifted up a gear. Meanwhile, all fans watched with suspicion the performance of ref Van Driessche who did not immediately make a good turn last week during Seraing – Standard.
The home fans noticed that their team was anything but taken aback by that early deficit. Fadera and Gano were the main spearheads of Essevee. Yet for a long time Bolat mainly remained an attentive spectator. Doing real work was not immediately possible before the break for the experienced goalkeeper of the Westelse Kemphanen, who happily continued to sting with sharp counters.
At the back of Essevee, everything looked just a little less reliable. When Foster escaped Derijck’s cover, it was immediately all hands on deck at Zulte Waregem. Nene suddenly turned up completely alone for Bossut, but Bossut once again confirmed his blood form and kept the Malian from a goal with a great reflex.
While Fadera seemed to be particularly bothered by the wintry turf, Brüls also barely appeared in the piece. All too often he lost the ball and that’s how the teamwork at Essevee stalled in that first half. Westerlo was perfectly prepared by De Roeck and consistently closed the running lines of Vormer and Brüls.
Since Ndour hardly got anything done on the right against De Cuyper, he tried it through the ashes. The small dribbler mellowed in character through the visiting defense and served Vormer, but the Dutchman encountered an attentive Bolat. On the other side, Madsen narrowly went over in the rebound.
Dissatisfied Leye brings Vossen after the break
Halfway through, Leye intervened resolutely. Vossen and Lopez replaced the mediocre Rommens and Sôrmo. Neustädter stayed in the dressing room with the visitors. In his place, Seigers took up residence in the heart of the Western defense. Those personnel changes heralded an exciting second half. In addition, the first significant opportunity was for the home team: Brüls aimed from more than 20 meters, but his shot whizzed a meter wide of Bolat’s cage.
Essevee tried to increase the pace, but the visitors pulled out all the tricks of the trade to keep the pace down. Westerlo also remained life-threatening in the counterattack. Nene snatched the ball from an insecure Ndour and went on an adventure. The attacker crossed the entire field but did not decide on Bossut’s goal. Quickly to the other side where Gano for once took on the role of declarant, but his cross was headed wide by Vossen.
On the hour mark, Leye took the weak Ndour aside and threw Drambaiev into battle. This caused Fadera to move to the right. In the meantime, Bossut was once again of gold value for his team: on a clever shot from Foster, the 37-year-old goalie kept his team upright once again. Moments later he also showed himself to be in class on a great distance attempt from Madsen.
Westerlo indeed gradually took over the initiative again, while Essevee continued to act too carelessly. However, the visitors turned out to be sick in the same bed and failed to lock the match. Meanwhile, Gano was unable to continue with the home team due to a hamstring injury. A serious setback for Essevee in view of the continuation of the relegation battle.
Nevertheless, Zulte Waregem scored the equalizer just after this substitution. Drambaiev threw the ball well in front of goal and Vossen left Bolat without a chance with a striking header (1-1). A minute later it was almost 2-1, but Vossen hit the ball – on a pass from Vormer – right at Bolat. A long shot from Vormer missed the right direction.
Westerlo then shouted for a penalty kick after Miroshi turned Chadli’s attempt off the line. By hand, the bank of Westerlo believed, but ref Van Driessche did not budge. It also remained quiet from Tubize; so Essevee escaped unscathed. The opponents thought it was time for a quick counterpunch, but Ramirez’s shot went just over.
The spectators now really got their money’s worth. Brüls also had a good shot, but his attempt also missed the right direction. Bolat then decided to gain time, but that ended up with a yellow card. Emotions flared up on the sidelines. Ref Van Driessche therefore had his hands full keeping everyone under control.
Especially when Vossen hit the crossbar with a header and De Cuyper then ran off with the ball but kicked the ball over. It could really go either way now: Fadera even headed on the post. Westerlo now really dragged itself to the end. Another four minutes were added and Essevee threw life and limb into the battle again, but a goal was no longer scored. So 1-1, a draw that doesn’t help Zulte Waregem much. Westerlo failed to kill the match especially before the break and was left frustrated in the end.
Setup Zulte Waregem: bossut; Sörmo (46′ Lopez), Derijck, Miroshi; Ndour (60′ Drambaiev), Sissako, Rommens (46′ Vossen), Vormer, Fadera; Brüls and Gano (70′ Ramirez)
Setup Westerlo: bolat; Jordanov (71′ Chadli), Neustädter (46′ Seigers), Tagir, De Cuyper; Reynolds, Madsen (77′ Fixelles), Van Eenoo, Van Den Keybus; Nene (89′ Vaesen) and Foster (89′ Vetokele)
goals: 9′ Neustadter 0-1, 72′ Vossen 1-1
Yellow cards: Bolat in Lopez
Red cards: /